Error Watch; Halls of Praise and Shame

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HALL OF PRAISE    (March 2, 2011)

We have to admit that the bestowing of praise is contrary to our nature. However, justice requires that we note that Lloyd Robertson, on CTV News, has lately been using the singular verb after the word "none." (See Misuse of Words #12.) We cannot fathom the reason for this circumstance. We have long railed against CTV as reflecting an ignorance of the finer points of English usage. We have long speculated that CTV News is a shoestring, bogus operation, entirely unable to afford a dictionary or elementary handbook of grammar. We have imagined that the scripts are written by the eight-year-old children of Australovenian immigrants, who, because of their manifest ignorance of the language, are paid $2.50 per hour. It may well be that Mr. Robertson has always been so scrupulously correct. It may be that, in the prospect of his retirement, this represents a "deathbed conversion"--like Edmund's vow: "Some good I mean to do." (King Lear). No matter. We experience a minor glow of satisfaction each time we hear this correct usage.



Lloyd Robertson on CTV news, June 3, 2011: "Dr. Kevorkian flaunted the law..." The most kindly interpretation we can put on this error (See Pet Peeve # 17 )  is that Lloyd Robertson is actually a robot. How could someone use the singular verb after "none" (see Hall of Praise above)--suggesting an advanced grammatical sensitivity--and then say flaunt instead of flout? No, Lloyd Robertson is a robot wearing a life-like Lloyd Robertson mask, reading whatever is put in front of it. The real Lloyd Robertson retired some years ago and is living a grammar-free existence in Smooth Rock Falls.


The National Post, July 3, 2010. Editorial, The Real Censor...

"Such a move would have been self-serving, making Mr. Rock look like the defender of free speech, even though it was him all along who wanted to 'chill' Ms. Coulter's remarks."

See Pet Peeve #14.  Him should be replaced with he. The whole phrase "It was him all along..." sounds like something one might hear in the playground of an elementary school. ("Danny did it! Danny did it! It was him all along that put them tacks on Miss McGillicuddy's chair!"  Yes child--now run along inside and try to learn enough grammar so that you can become an editor at the National Post.) Surely Conrad Black would not approve. Perhaps we should write to him.

The same editorial also uses "regards" instead of "regard" --see below.



CTV News, Sunday, May 23, 2010. Tom Hayes: (approximate quotation) "In another few minutes the boat would have went under..."

Yes, we know that CTV News scripts are written by the eight-year-old children of Australovenian illegal immigrants; their knowledge of the English language is limited--but, hey--they work for $2.50 an hour! But wouldn't you think that Tom Hayes would instinctively recoil on encountering this? Is Tom Hayes, in fact, a robot? Hmmmm...leads one to speculate about Lloyd Robertson and Sandie Rinaldo.


October, 2014 Lisa LaFlamme, CTV News: nurse placed on quarantine for Ebola is "not going to take it laying down." (Pet Peeve #1) We must imagine Ms. LaFlamme's tombstone will read incorrectly thus:

Here lays Ms. LaFlamme:
She abandoned her grammar --
Told it to scram;
It lay a complaint --
Called her a sham.
Now she'll never lay easy,
That Lisa LaFlamme.

October, 2014 "Mourners stream into Hamilton funeral home where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo is laying in state." (Pet Peeve # 1)

January, 2013 An advertisement for an exercise program "Tapout XT" promises a "body like Mike Karpenko.  (Peeve # 18)

January, 2013 Advertisement for Dr. Ho's Back Belt speaks of "less pain, less bills." (Peeve #4). There is also a reference to "laying down or sleeping." (Peeve # 1)

April 4, 2012. CTV News -- Lisa LaFlamme referred to the idea of happiness for some people as "laying on a beach."  In a later part of the broadcast, Zuraidah Alman correctly used the word "lay," referring to someone who came to lay flowers at a particular location. There is obviously no consistent policy at CTV News. Why is it that we are not surprised?  (See Peeve #1)

May 10, 2011 CTV news--Lisa LaFlamme: "That's where news about relationships and romance rule." They really are dumb at CTV news. "News" is singular and so requires the singular verb "rules." See Pet Peeve # 8.

May 4, 2011-- National Post: "U.S. intelligence experts in Afghanistan ...are pouring over a treasure trove of documents..." This would seem to be highly inadvisable--leading to soppiness, unreadability and mould. Poring would be preferable.

 April 27, 2011-- CTV National News: Richard Madan–"The costing of NDP promises are now under scrutiny..."

Some things is really puzzling. Are Richard Madan really a Grade Eight graduate?

Do CTV News has proofreaders?

Are it necessary, after all, for verbs to agree with subjects, or are it now acceptable that they agrees with the nearest noun?

See Pet Peeve # 8

April 22 or 23, 2011-- CTV local News. Andria Case referred to a "knife laying abandoned on the ground. " See Pet Peeve # 1. We debated whether or not to put this in our Hall of Shame Box, on the grounds that, even if such a horror were written into the script, Ms. Case, who presumably has a grade 8 education, had a moral and intellectual duty to correct it. We fear we may be a victim of Holiday Choclatitis, or softening of the ganglia skeweris grammaticus.

December 27, 2010. Headline in National Post: 'Send your game in and basically stand their naked.'  See Pet Peeve #16.

November 17, 2010.   Richard Madan, on CTV News: "The demand for these shares are so high...." See Pet Peeve # 8 below. Sometimes, we almost feel guilty pointing out errors on CTV News. The broadcasters  are such guileless innocents, unschooled, unaware that there are such things as dictionaries, oblivious to the fact that some kinds of expression are superior to others. It almost seems that we are taking advantage of them, sitting there with our grammar antennae turned up--oh--perhaps a quarter turn. It's a bit like playing a novice squash player and unleashing one's ungettable lob serve. We sometimes have to remind ourselves that many egos must be sacrificed if the Gods of Acceptable Expression are to be appeased.

October 1, 2010. David Johnston, at his investiture as Canada's Governor-General: "to properly recognize..." See Pet Peeve # 15.

September 21, 2010. We are intrigued to see that the Hells Angels have given up their Motorcycles for more fitness-friendly bicycles. It is heartening to see that Government Health Propaganda is having such a positive effect. In an article on the contraband tobacco business on the Kahnawake Reserve, Tom Blackwell writes in the National Post: "...police alleged that [the cigarette factory's] owners were working closely with the Hells Angels, their cheap, tax-free cigarettes being pedalled on the streets of Montreal along with the outlaw bike gang's crack cocaine."

In the same edition of the Post, Don Martin (House is back, civility is not) refers to a statement he claims was made to him by Michael Ignatieff:

"I don't think changing the rules are as important as changing the atmosphere."  We can hardly believe Mr. Ignatieff would make such an obvious error (see # 8 below). Wasn't he supposed to have been a University Professor? If the error was not his, he should sue Mr. Martin for libel.


No. We are NOT picking on Rex Murphy. His prose often sparkles. On the other hand, he concludes his column Broken Down and Out of Gas  in the National Post, July 17, 2010--speaking of Michael Ignatieff: "There's a kind of reverse Cinderella syndrome here--he shined every moment till it counted." The past of shine is shone--and shined really grates. Shined is--pretty much --only used of shoes. The Bloomsbury Good Word Guide says: "shined is restricted to the meaning 'polished.'" An American might say, "He shined his flashlight" --but would we really want to imitate the Americans?

National Post, July 3,  Editorial: "In this regards, perhaps most troubling was Mr. Rock's...."

The prepositional phrase "as regards" is correct. (As regards your suggestion that we get a Mermaid tattoo...). In this instance, regard is used as a noun, and does not require an s. Compare with with regard to, or in regard to.

On the same page, Rex Murphy says "Brilliance, honesty, industry--none prevail if the guiding rhythm or tone of the time is against you."

See pet Peeve #12. None is singular, and requires the verb prevails.

June 5, 2010. Weekend Reader, the Hamilton Spectator: "If Jimmy Howard had been born in the United States, he may have become one of the most famous names in all of NASCAR..." See Pet Peeve #3 below. You could only make the statement "he may have become one of the most famous names in all of NASCAR" if you didn't know whether Jimmy became one of the most famous names or not. You left on a spaceship some years ago, and never found out what happened to Jimmy Howard--for all you know he may have become one of the most famous names.  But, in actual fact, you do know that he didn't become one of the most famous names--that possibility is no longer open--he MIGHT have become famous --but he didn't. The condition--"if he had been born in the United States" does not help. He wasn't born there. Before he was born, you could say, "If he is born in the U.S., he may become one of the most famous names..." Once he is born somewhere else, you have to say, "Had he been born in the U.S., he MIGHT have become one of the most famous names..."

Oddly, in the Editorial on page 6 of the same edition, the statement is made: "Duff Roblin, who died at 92, may have been the best prime minister that Canada never had." This, we would claim is correct, because of the absurd and impossible situation suggested: that someone could be a best prime minister without being a prime minister. Millions of people, including those not yet born, may vie for this unattainable position. Thus Duff Roblin MAY have been the best prime minister we never had--we  don't know, and never can know, so it remains an open possibility. It would be quite different, however, if someone said: "If Duff Roblin had run for the Conservatives instead of Robert Stanfield, he may have been Canada's best prime minister." No--the word is MIGHT--which expresses a possibility that was once open--when Roblin could have run instead of Stanfield -- but he didn't, and the possibility is no longer open.


June 4, 2010. Robert Fife on CTV News: "The stack of unfulfilled promises grow... " See Pet Peeve #8.

May 28, 2010. John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, author of Why we Hate Oil Companies, on BNN's Headline-- used the non-word "irregardless."  See Pet Peeve # 9. He also said "none of these companies are profitable" -- but, as noted below in Pet Peeve #12, many people make this error in speech. We object more strongly when it appears in writing.

May 24, CTV News. Daniele Hamamdjian speaks of bathers "laying on the beach."  See Pet Peeve # 1.

May 11, 2010: "Jocelyn Dulnuan, 27, was found slain on Oct. 1, 2007, her body laying face-up behind a closed bedroom door.... (Megan O'Toole, National Post, page A12.) See Peeve # 1. One of the unfortunate but necessary concomitants of being dead is that one cannot lay one's books on the desk, one's cards on the table, or one's gloves on the counter. Nor can one be laying with one's face up, down, or sideways. Lying in a variety of positions is entirely possible.

April 28, 2010: "None of these mere details were considered very relevant..." (Peter Foster in the National Post.) See peeve #12.

March 28, 2010:   "The affects of such disclosure will dramatically hurt the US economy and more than likely be thrown in the back burner and over turned."  (Equedia Weekly)   See Peeve # 10.

March 23, 2010: "Each of the record's tracks have their own charms." (Ben Kaplan in the National Post.) See Pet Peeve number 8.

March 22, 2010:  "Rufus Wainwright....has found seemingly the only hotel suite in the city containing both a grand piano and a chaise lounge."  (Mike Doherty in the National Post. ) The "chaise lounge" is a schizophrenic bit of furniture usually found in advertisements composed by the ignorati for Home Depot. It's either a "chaise longue" (French for "long chair") or a "lounge chair." Perhaps the matter could be most properly addressed with a "National Furniture Mental Health Day."

March 20, 2010: "I forgot it was Saturday.  Had I remembered, it may still not have occurred to me that operating machinery on the Sabbath is sacrilegious..." (George Jonas in the National Post.) See pet peeve number 3 below. While we hesitate to criticize the prose of so an illustrious writer as George Jonas, and while we may be inclined to agree that if he uses "may" in this manner, the battle for the distinction between "may" and "might" is lost, we still think logic is on our side. Here is the test: suppose we use the verb "will" instead of "may." The past of "will" is "would." The past of "may" is "might."

Present tense:

1. I will remember to set the clock ahead one hour.
(b) I may remember to set the clock ahead one hour.

Past tense:

2. Had I remembered, I would have set the clock ahead--NOT  "I will have set the clock ahead."
(b) Had I remembered, I might have set the clock ahead--NOT "I may have set the clock ahead." 

We think the logic here is irrefutable.


 December 14, 2009: T.V. advertisement --Galen Weston Jr. --flogging his brand of turkeys:

"Like the name says, it's deep-basted with real butter."

Comment: How deceptive images can be! Here we have a pleasant gentleman dressed in a manner, and presented in an environment which would suggest an upper middle class background--you know--reasonably well educated parents, decent schools, and so on. And then the revelation! He doesn't know the difference between "like" and "as!"  Boy, this ad is a TURKEY!


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